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THE RICH CULTURE OF CYCLING IN THE NETHERLANDS

There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike, according to the BBC.

Did you know that Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment.

Experts say that riding to work or the shops is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine. An estimated one billion people ride bicycles every day for transport, recreation and I must say that a lot of these people can be found in the Netherlands.

On my trip to the country I observed how freely people moved about on their bikes, Rich, Poor, Fat, Thin, Old, Young even little kids were guided by their parents when riding out as a family. This practice might seem alien to quite a lot of persons in Africa and may be Nigeria, specifically.

Standing at a Bicycle rack in Amsterdam Central, May 25, 2019

Recall that former Transport Minister, Ojo Maduekwe had innocently proposed this mode of transportation during his time as Minister, “the furore that triggered was equalled perhaps only by his espousal later as Transport minister that urban-dwellers should bike more than riding automobiles. As usual, the uproar that generated hardly left him any space in the airwaves to expatiate that the option was not only eco-friendly but conducive to healthy lifestyle.

Late Former Minister of Transport,Ojo Maduekwe

Too bad, on a ride to work one of those hostile days, his bicycle slipped and Ojo came crashing down on the busy Abuja highway. That singular incident provided more ammunition for critics who had long dismissed his quixotic proposal as nothing more than a suicide mission.

Undaunted, he continued his biking to the weekly federal executive council meeting. A practice he continued for the rest of his tenure. (The Nation, July 2016)

In most parts of the Africa where affluence is measured by the size and make of your car, riding a bicycle will seem like diminishing your status in the society but in the Netherlands, the Rich and powerful even have and ride on bikes for example you would find the Prime Minister, Mark Rutte cycling to work every day and he does it to urge citizens to do the same!

Cycling is a common mode of transport in the Netherlands, with 36% of the people listing the bicycle as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day as opposed to the car by 45% and public transport by 11%.

This high frequency of bicycle travel is enabled by excellent cycling infrastructure such as cycle paths, cycle tracks, protected intersections, ample bicycle parking and by making cycling routes shorter, quicker and more direct than car routes.

To make cycling safer and more inviting the Dutch have built a vast network of cycle paths. These are clearly marked, have smooth surfaces, separate signs and lights for those on two wheels, and wide enough to allow side-by-side cycling and overtaking.

Just so you know, you can cycle around a roundabout while cars (almost always) wait patiently for you to pass. The idea that “the bike is right” is such an alien concept for tourists on bikes that many often find it difficult to navigate roads and junctions at first.

Cycling became popular in the Netherlands a little later than it did in the United States and Britain who experienced their bike booms in the 1880s, but by the 1890s the Dutch were already building dedicated paths for cyclists. By 1911, the Dutch owned more bicycles per capita than any other country in Europe.

So if you want to copy something good and imbibe the cycling culture of the Dutch, find below what researchers say about cycling!

1 It’s easy on the joints.

When you sit on a bike, you put your weight on a pair of bones in the pelvis called the ischial tuberosities, unlike walking, when you put your weight on your legs.

2. Pushing pedals provides an aerobic workout.

That’s great for your heart, brain, and blood vessels. Aerobic exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals which may make you feel young at heart.

3. Cycling builds muscle.

In the power phase of pedaling (the downstroke), you use the gluteus muscles in the buttocks, the quadriceps in the thighs, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calves. In the recovery phase (backstroke, up-stroke, and overstroke), you use the hamstrings in the back of the thighs and the flexor muscles in the front of the hips.

Cycling works other muscles, too.

You use abdominal muscles to balance and stay upright, and you use your arm and shoulder muscles to hold the handlebars and steer.

4. It helps with everyday activities.

“The benefits carry over to balance, walking, standing, endurance, and stair climbing,” says Dr. Safran-Norton.

5. Pedaling builds bone.

“Resistance activities, such as pushing pedals, pull on the muscles, and then the muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density,” says Dr. Safran-Norton.

Remember your Helmet when you ride!

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